“Mercy is an outstanding mother. I saw Zewelanji when she first came to the center, she was so thin, and I was scared for her life, but Mercy was determined to provide her daughter with the care she needed. All we [SHN Staff] needed to do was support her, train her, and provide her with access to the proper feeding resources.”

Mirriam, SHN Social Worker

Meet Mercy, Amake* Zewelanji.  Zewelanji is 2 years old and began attending our Garden Community Care Center (CCC) at the beginning of June.  Mercy and her sweet daughter have been greatly impacted by their involvement with SHN.  Our Social Worker, Mirriam, and our Cooperating Teacher, Sarah, interviewed Mercy in order to share her story with you! (*Amake means “mother of” in Nyanja)

Mercy’s mother (Zewelanji’s grandmother) heard about Special Hope Network while working to care for kids with TB at the Ministry of Health. She came to our CCC to learn more, and to request information that she could pass along to her daughter, Mercy. She had a feeling that her daughter and granddaughter would fit in well at Special Hope Network!

Zewelanji had no muscle tone and couldn’t keep food down prior to attending our Garden CCC.  She was weak and unable to gain weight, weighing only 7 kg (15.4 lbs). When they first arrived at CCC, Mirriam performed a health assessment on Zewelanji.  She was quite worried because Zewelanji was lacking nourishment and looked exceptionally weak and thin. But Mirriam held on to the hope that with consistent encouragement and direction, Mercy would be able to nurse Zewelanji to a healthy weight. 

Mirriam coached Mercy on how to feed Zewelanji, and explained that nourishing Zewelanji to a healthy weight would be no small feat. Mirriam instructed Mercy to feed Zewelanji every two hours with different types of foods, including: porridge, fruits, vegetables, and kapenta (fish).  It would be quite a change from her porridge-only diet.

Zewelanji responded surprisingly well to the drastic change in her diet, and seemed to enjoy the variety of foods! Very quickly, Zewelanji’s weight increased to 8.7kg (19.2lbs).

“Because of Mercy’s determination and rapid application of all that she was learning, Zewelanji improved in a short period of time, only one month! Mercy is very good at following the instructions that SHN staff provide, and is a good example to the rest of our CCC families. She feeds her child before class starts, and as soon as class ends. She even feeds Zewelanji avocado, and other forms of protein that aren’t so easy to come by.”

Mirriam, SHN Social Worker

Mercy is so grateful to be in community with other mothers who can offer her encouragement, support, and understanding. She says that they often share what is and isn’t working with their children.  Mercy reported that Zewelanji is learning to sit, thanks to some strengthening exercises in the CCC Motor classroom, and she often finds that Zewelanji has moved to different positions when Mercy lies her on the floor for “tummy time”! Mercy has also loved learning how to communicate with her daughter. She can tell that her daughter loves the songs during circle time, because she will smile or move in a way that embodies her joy.

Mercy’s family is so glad to see that Zewelanji is growing!  They’ve been encouraged to see that Mercy is receiving resources and training to help her care for Zewelanji.  Zewelanji’s name means happiness, or rejoicing, and we are certainly rejoicing over her precious life!